Autism and Animal Science with Dr. Temple Grandin

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About This Episode

Discover how Dr. Temple Grandin’s own autism helped her revolutionize animal welfare when she sits down with Neil deGrasse Tyson in his office at the Hayden Planetarium in NYC. Dr. Grandin, a leading voice in understanding autism, explains how autistic brains are different. Explore Temple’s style of photo-realistic thinking – “My mind thinks kind of like Google Images” – and her concerns about the “smart, geeky kids” at one end of the autism spectrum. In studio, Neil is joined by co-host Chuck Nice and Dr. Paul Wang of Autism Speaks, who describes searching for a cause among environmental risk factors and genetic vulnerabilities. You’ll also hear how Temple, a Professor of Animal Science at CSU, changed the way animals are treated in U.S. slaughterhouses, reducing discomfort and improving animal welfare. Learn about biological system overload and overbreeding in racehorses and dairy cows. Humane Society VP Paul Shapiro explains Temple’s far-ranging impact and debates veganism and cultured meat with resident steak lover Chuck. (Warning: Adult lyrics in music clips.)

NOTE: All-Access subscribers can listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: Autism and Animal Science with Dr. Temple Grandin.

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  • Linda

    Drs. Tyson and Grandin: I have a great admiration for both of you. Love the show, Dr. Tyson. Incidentally, are either of you familiar with a gentleman named John Elder Robison? He has an interesting story of his own plight with Autism.

  • crow

    I met Temple many times while in the cattle industry in Arizona. Very bright, dedicated, caring. She was always looking at animal safety. Donn Ebarb. Scottsdale Feedyard.

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  • Matthew

    I am so glad that Andrew Jackson Jihad songs were used in this episode!

    • Chase

      Yes. 😀

  • Rachel

    Yaaay Andrew Jackson Jihad song! <3

  • Rachel

    Yaaay Andrew Jackson Jihad song! <3

  • Jochem Boeijenga

    What an insightful episode, absolutely loved it!

  • tgafal73

    I’d be interested to know Temple’s opinion of Autism Speaks. My understanding is that many in the autistic community object to the organization’s objective to cure autism.

  • Dan

    I love the show and normally love Chuck Nice. He’s so funny. Not sure I really got his humor when he was making fun of animal suffering, but was at least glad to see the issue being discussed. Thank you for your good work!

  • stephanie

    Two of my favorite topics: space and animal protection. Thank you!

  • Elizabeth

    Huge fan of Neil’s, and I always love hearing an expert like Paul Shapiro talk about animal welfare!

  • Lara Prescott

    Great episode! So glad to see these issues being discussed on StarTalk, and loved Paul Shapiro from the Humane Society of the US on there too.

  • Josh

    Great episode — thanks for talking about such interesting topics like farm animals. More Paul Shapiro!

  • the commercials are horrible. love the content, I fast forward the commercials. sorry!

    Oh, and Temple is my hero. She is an AMAZING person (and woman). I am on the spectrum myself. I have had a lifetime of social trouble including jail when I was young. That all ended when I got absorbed into computers and pot 🙂

  • Jim1950a

    At 37:37 should be “Frau Dr. Temple Grandin”.

  • Great episode. I learned so much. I learned a lot from Mr. Shapiro too, so thanks for having him on the show. Will be doing my own research on some of what I heard. The overfeeding and hurried growth of livestock can’t be good for the end consumer, never mind the poor animals. I like Paul’s stuff, because I can find facts that back a lot of it up. I’ve also read facts to backup the racehorse breeding. The fastest marathon runners come from a small tribe in Kenya. As I recall, it was skinniness of their ankles that was the correlation for why they were faster. I guess she’s saying that they bred them to have ankles so skinny that the horses have become too fragile. Anyway, very entertaining!

  • Nora

    Loved Cosmos and am a big fan of Neil, but whoa, what is up with Chuck and him getting so much laughter about cruelty to animals? I thought Neil would be smarter than that. I like jokes as much as anyone, but that final segment seemed pretty over the top considering the topic. Might be time for some empathy training for them! Paul Shapiro was great, though!

    • Authopedic

      I agree. Perhaps Chuck wouldn’t consider the topic so hilarious if he’d watched some candid videos of factory farms beforehand. The topic is about as funny as sexism, racism or homophobia.

  • Lewis

    Thanks for having Paul Shapiro on the show! As a big fan of the show, I was excited to see you covering farm animal issues. I was surprised, though, to see that Chuck and Neil ended up belittling animal cruelty and cracking jokes about the issue. It seems to me there’s a serious moral issue here that the show didn’t begin to scratch. I hope the show covers the issue again, next time with the rigor and compassion that the topic deserves.

    • Authopedic

      I agree. The issue and the Mr. Shapiro were both treated disrespectfully. A very disappointing first. Perhaps this is a result of some people being attached to certain cultures/traditions/habits, and as a result they don’t like being invited to re-evaluate.

  • Sir Loyne

    Chuck Nice was even worse than usual in this episode.

    • Martin

      I disagree… He’s one of the best cohosts there and also science-sensitive.

  • Veg Frederick

    Love the show!! Been hoping you’d cover animal protection issues sometime!

  • Erica

    What an impressive line-up for this topic! I’m glad StarTalk is covering the issue of cruelty to farm animals. Thank you, Neil!

  • Nick Cooney

    Thanks for this important show. I especially liked Paul Shapiro’s comments about the need to treat farm animals better. I couldn’t agree more. Thanks Neil for covering that topic!

  • Great episode! Especially loved the insightful perspective of Paul Shapiro from the Humane Society. Thanks so much!

  • Mark

    Another great episode, very interesting stuff. I know Chuck is just trying to keep it funny (and he’s usually hilarious), but it was a bit awkward how he sort of antagonized the guest who came to talk about animal cruelty. Would love to hear more of Neil’s thoughts on this topic. Thanks for doing this show!

  • Valerie Smith

    Dr. Grandin’s book was recommended to me by my son’s Psychiatrist when he was about 10 yrs. ago – his Autism Spectrum Disorder is more moderate than Asberger’s, yet he is verbal, interactive, etc. I looked up the internet plans for a “box” she developed for “calming”Autistic children (much the same way as cattle in chutes at slaughterhouses were?) by gently “hugging” them so that the tactile sensitivity issues most children with ASDs have might be comforted – allowing the child to feel where they are “spatially”. I made the box but did not get the results expected: my son felt so much anxiety at being trapped that he panicked and required intervention. I know each individual’s needs are different, and he is much older now, but would Dr. Grandin have a suggestion for other parents for the use of her invention? I hoped that her “box” could have benefited my son as he was banging into walls and stomping his feet to feel where he was in his own “space”. Thank you Dr’s Tyson, Grandin, Wang and Shapiro. What a great show – I learned and relived so much. I always hoped that my son “K” would be able to be integrated socially as Dr. Grandin has, but it was not to be. He is my son, we love each other, and his gifts to me include allowing me a chance to view the world through his eyes. And what a beautiful world it is! Thanks again!

  • Lance

    I love listening to Temple Grandin! I thought some of the vegan jokes were a little ignorant, probably offended or at least frustrated one of the guests. And the advertising is a little over-the-top. But overall love the topic!

  • Dan

    Andrew Jackson Jihad!!!

  • BP

    Who – Show that Shapiro guy a bit more love.

  • Amelia

    My grand daughter is on the spectrum her core interest are of course math and science , this is a very bright 16 who has a glorious future ahead of her but she’s frightened at the prospect of getting older and the change that comes with it, how do I get her to see that there are so many wonderful things ahead for her?

  • Tipsy

    Wish Chuck didn’t slam the point about the laboratory meat, if we ever do consume meat ethically on a large scale, it will HAVE to be through an industrial version of that.

    Animals won’t be part of the picture in an ethical meat-consuming world.

  • Karen Dawn

    Great show! Temple Grandin and Paul Shapiro are both always great. I saw some comments saying that Chuck gave Paul Shapiro too much flak but it was clear to me that Shapiro could handle it just fine, and there were some funny exchanges. Entertaining and informative! Thank you!

  • alex

    Autism Speaks is an awful organization.

    • Paul M. Lundgren

      Can you elaborate, please? I saw an article on how little of their budget goes toward helping people with autism. Is there more to your dislike of the organization?

  • KD

    Who is Dr. Grandin referring to that’s on social security and playing videogames? Videogames are expensive! That bit sounded a lot like conjecture, I wonder where she got that from.

  • Sleeplessbooks

    I don’t suppose there are transcripts that I can read?

    • Unfortunately, we do not make transcripts of our shows.

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  • Very weird treatment of Mr. Shapiro. He was totally easy going, logical and persuasive. It seemed like Chuck was just trying to get a rise out of him – but then again, that’s the defense mechanism employed most often when one feels guilt about the things they eat. I’m so often surprised when extremely smart, worldly people like Neil don’t understand the suffering inherent in animal agriculture and don’t seem to be at all bothered by it. History will see this as a revolutionary time, due to people like Paul Shapiro. Nice to hear him calmly spreading the word!

  • Corinne Moss

    This makes me sad. I respect Temple Grandin very much. However I hope Neil listens a little to the comments and does some research on Autism Speaks. My son is not a tragedy. They would have you believe he is. They use less then 5% of the money they get to help actual autistic children and they shun adults with autism (other then Dr. Grandin). They spend most on paying g their pockets and doing research o. How to find d autism in the womb so parents can get abortions if autism is found. They use our kids as a way to scare society with lies. I am sick of those with strong voices blindly supporting this evil without even bothering to do some research.

  • Brin

    I swear Chuck Nice manages to work in a sexist joke in every episode he’s in. Add that on to the laughing about slaughter and the comments of “that’s what makes meat delicious!”…this was hard to listen to.

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